Home Movies The DCEU Is At An End! Ranking All 15 Movies From MAN OF STEEL To AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM

The DCEU Is At An End! Ranking All 15 Movies From MAN OF STEEL To AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM

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The DCEU Is At An End! Ranking All 15 Movies From MAN OF STEEL To AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM


Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is now in theaters, and with James Wan’s sequel marking the end of what came to be known as the DCEU era before the DCU relaunch, we’ve decided to rank all 15 movies in the franchise.

Warner Bros.’ attempt to establish a shared movie universe in the same vein as The MCU began with Man of Steel in 2013, and despite some bright spots and box office successes along the way, most would agree that it never really took flight – at least not to the level DC fans were hoping for.

Things appeared to turn a corner with Wonder Woman, which led to a lot more optimism for the future of the DCEU overall. Of course, a lot of fans never stopped feeling that things were better when Zack Snyder was in the picture, and the positive reaction to the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League led to a resurgence of the #RestoreTheSnyderVerse campaign.

WB had no interest, however, and forged ahead with a more light-hearted approach, resulting in movies such as Shazam! and its recent sequel, Blue Beetle, and The Flash.

Have a read through, and whether you agree or not, please keep in kind that this is just one person’s opinion, and feel free to share your own rankings in the comments.

Update: So, I just realised that I completely forgot about Black Adam, probably because I still haven’t seen it! I’ll rectify that ASAP and add it to the list.

Aquaman

Aquaman becomes the DCEU's first $1 billion box-office baby - CNET

You probably weren’t expecting to see this at the bottom of the list!

I’m completely aware that I’m in the minority here, but James Wan’s hokey farce of an Aquaman movie did nothing for me at all. Arthur Curry’s first solo film practically falls over itself in an attempt to change the perception that the DCEU was too “dark and depressing.” Wan’s movie is bright, colorful (garish, really), and tries to inject a sense of fun and old-fashioned adventure into pretty much every scene.

Unfortunately, it forgets to include little things like compelling characters and an engaging story along the way.

The script is perfunctory, the performances range from passable to outright egregious (seriously, where did they find the kid that played teenage Arthur?), and almost every line of dialogue is either exposition, an eye-rolling cliché or some brotastic, juvenile one-liner. I did laugh several times during this movie, but it definitely wasn’t at any of the “jokes.”

On the plus side, Aquaman does feature some stunning visuals and brilliantly creative creature designs, all of which come together for a pretty damn bonkers finale – though by that stage I was on my second watch check.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Ending Explained - IGN

Yes, I actually had a bit more fun with the sequel, in large part due to the pairing of Momoa’s Arthur Curry and his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), which does result in some genuinely entertaining moments.

A few bright spots aside, The Lost Kingdom does very little to distinguish itself from its predecessor: Same silly/childish humor (“was that piss?”), same eye-rolling dialogue, same dreadful script.

To be fair, an expanded role for Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta is a plus, there’s an admirable (if a little heavy-handed) environmentalist message, and a couple of exciting, well-orchestrated action sequences.

At the end of the day, if you liked the first one, I have no idea why you wouldn’t get at least some enjoyment out of this.

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad review: too many villains, not enough real villainy | The  Verge

I admit it: I did enjoy David Ayer’s Suicide Squad to an extent, but considering the movie we got was nowhere near as good as its terrific trailers promised, it has to be considered a major disappointment.

The film begins well enough, but as it goes on it just gets messier and messier until it pretty much loses all sense of cohesiveness. Add baffling character choices, bizarre needle drops, and a pair of laughable villains to the mix, and it’s not hard to see why so many fans and critics dismissed it entirely.

And yet, Suicide Squad does have its moments. Some individual scenes work very well (Batman’s face-off with Deadshot, for example) and the cast is mostly on form, with Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Viola Davis, in particular, putting in great performances.

Not a complete washout, but this should have been so much more.

Justice League (Theatrical Cut)

All 4 Justice League Movies in Order

Like a lot of its fellow DCEU entries, I believe Justice League gets a bit of a bad rap and is a far more entertaining movie than many give it credit for. That said, there’s no denying that the first big-screen team-up of DC’s best and brightest should have been a lot better.

What went wrong? It’s probably quicker to list off what didn’t, but it’s clear that Zack Snyder being replaced by Joss Whedon had a major impact on the finished product. Would it have been a better movie if Snyder had been able to finish the job? Well, the more recent director’s cut (a lot higher on this list) provided an answer.

As it stands, this version of Justice League is loud, brash, campy, sporadically exciting, funny, and… kind of a mess. Most of the characters are well served, though, and there is fun to be had – it’s just a shame this wasn’t the cinematic event DC fans were hoping for.

Wonder Woman 1984

The 'Wonder Woman 1984' Post-Credits Scene, Explained

The initial reactions to Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 were overwhelmingly positive, but that soon changed when more critics were given the opportunity to see the DC Comics sequel, and it’s since proved to be just as divisive with the fans.

I enjoyed the movie to an extent, but it’s hard to argue with a lot of the criticisms levelled against it.

WW84 is entertaining enough for most of its running time, but the script is all over the place. Most superhero movies require some suspension of disbelief, of course, but the logic lapses here make it difficult to stay engaged, and how invested you allow yourself to become may hinge on your willingness to buy into some tough to swallow plot points (we’re looking at you, magic wish stone).

If you can get past the silliness, however, WW84 proves to be a watchable enough sequel with strong performances and a handful of exciting set pieces.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Review — How the Ultimate Edition Makes 'Batman v Superman' a Masterpiece |  by Fenrile | Medium

It really wouldn’t be accurate to call the reviews for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice mixed, because the majority of critics hated the movie with a passion.

Zack Snyder’s follow up to Man of Steel does have a lot of problems. It’s messy, disjointed, over-long by a good 20 minutes or so, and – most crucially for purists – offers radically different takes on the iconic DC heroes of its title. But despite all of this, I believe BVS is quite a bit better than its reputation would suggest.

I’m not one of these Snyder diehards that thinks it’s some kind of misunderstood masterpiece, but I do believe many critics – and fans – chose to focus on what the movie did wrong while completely disregarding everything it did right.

The first big-screen meeting of DC’s Trinity was definitely not the cinematic event it could (or should) have been, and that “Martha” scene is probably destined to be ridiculed and misunderstood in equal measure for many years to come, but give it another watch – the extended, ideally – and you might be surprised by how well it holds up.

Blue Beetle

Blue Beetle' soars, though not to new heights - Pipe Dream

Blue Beetle arrived in theaters earlier this year, and in many ways, the first big-screen outing for Jaime Reyes proved to be a very pleasant surprise. So it’s a shame that the movie is content to coast along without ever attempting to break free of its genetic superhero origin story trappings.

Director Ángel Manuel Soto deserves props for focusing on the heritage and culture of the first ever Latino superhero lead as often as possible, and Xolo Maridueña makes for a likeable and compelling in-over-his-head hero, with the interplay between Jaime and his family proving to be a major highlight.

Unfortunately, the by-the-numbers plotting and forgettable villains bring the movie down, and by the time the last act rolls around, you may find yourself losing interest.

Maridueña is expected to return as Blue Beetle in the DCU, so let’s hope his next outing proves to be a more successful showcase for his talents.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam! Fury of the Gods' Review: An Overlong but Reasonably Fun and  Action-packed Sequel

Though nobody really had any major expectations for a relatively obscure DC Comics character’s first big-screen outing, 2019’s Shazam! proved to be a pleasant surprise. Audiences responded to a breezy mix of humour, heart and superhero thrills, and the movie ended up turning a tidy profit for Warner Bros. and New Line, pretty much guaranteeing a sequel.

For the most part, director David F. Sandberg managed to replicate the winning formula with recent sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods – even if the film never quite flies as high as its predecessor.

Fury of the Gods is a lot of fun for a good chunk of its run-time, but fails to escape the third act issues that plague so many of its contemporaries, with mythical beasts invading the city in a flurry of seemingly endless CGI showdowns. Perhaps more glaringly, there is an ill-advised attempt to tug at the heartstrings that is simply never going to land with anyone who’s aware of the type of movie they’re watching.

Still, it’s a mostly enjoyable superhero adventure that hits the right emotional beats while providing a few belly-laughs in the process.

Shazam!

Shazam! Review | Movie - Empire

Shazam! was envisioned as a more family-friendly DC movie with the focus placed on heart over grit, and in that respect, David F. Sandberg delivered.

The movie is endearing, funny and engaging (at least until it overstays its welcome), but it’s also a little overlong, and maybe slightly too twee for its own good.

That said, it’s never less than entertaining thanks to a terrific cast, a genuinely warm and funny script (take note, Aquaman) and some exciting, if slightly iffy CGI-heavy, action sequences.

At the end of the day, Kids seemed to love Shazam!, and that’s really all that matters.

The Flash

The Flash Multiverse Explained: Where Are We, Exactly?

Yeah, this is probably going to be the most “what was he thinking” spot on the list, but, some glaring issues aside, I thought The Flash was a pretty good movie.

Pre-release hype really did The Flash no favors, as it became clear that the studio was doing everything in its power to promote the Scarlet Speedster’s first solo outing as a must-see event, with some big names gushing over the film on social media (Tom Cruise loved it so much he called director Andy Muschietti… apparently), and DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn hailing it as one of “the greatest superhero movies of all time.”

The Flash wasn’t even the best superhero movie released this June, but that doesn’t mean didn’t have a lot going for it.

Christina Hodson’s script wisely chooses to focus on Barry Allen’s heartbreaking plight, and the film really comes alive in the more emotional moments the hero shares with his mother. It’s also very funny… at times.

As is so often the case with these movies, an overabundance of humor means that some gags inevitably miss the mark, but, for the most part, it’s a pretty successful balance, and the dramatic scenes are at least given time to register before the next quip.

Unfortunately, things begin to fall apart in a rushed third act, and way too much is crammed in to the last 30 minutes or so. The final action set piece is reasonably well-orchestrated in a vacuum, but isn’t given nearly enough set-up, and the FX are pretty shoddy – especially in the now infamous “Chrono-Bowl” scene, which features characters who all look like they’ve stepped out of a PS3 cut-scene.

Still, if you can forgive a few missteps and some dreadful CGI, the Scarlet Speedster’s solo adventure is a highly enjoyable movie overall.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman (2017) - IMDb

For many, Wonder Woman will take the top spot here, and that’s completely understandable. Not only was it the first solo big screen outing for one of the most popular superheroes in history, but it was also the first female-led comic book movie from any major studio since Elektra back in 2005.

Oh yes, there was also the small matter of a lot of people pinning their hopes on Patty Jenkins’ film to be the one that “saved” The DCEU.

While I wasn’t necessarily of the opinion that The DCEU needed saving, there’s no denying that Jenkins knocked it out of the park. If you were of the belief that WB desperately needed to inject a bit more heart into The DCEU, then Wonder Woman must have been a breath of fresh air. It’s funny, engaging and action-packed, with a strong emotional core and a star-making turn from Gal Gadot.

It does have some problems (the third act flounders a little and lays on the cheese), but overall, Jenkins’ old-school adventure served as a terrific setup for Diana’s cinematic future (such that it was).

Birds of Prey

Margot Robbie's 'Birds of Prey' Sees Strong First-Day Presales

Birds of Prey higher than Wonder Woman!? There wasn’t much in it, but Cathy Yan’s bonkers girl-gang flick is simply more my cup of tea.

The movie struggled at the box office despite positive reviews, and that was a real shame because BOP is an absolute blast.

The film isn’t really concerned with clever twists or major surprises and the plot is very straightforward, even a little cliched. That’s not to say things ever get boring (one thing this movie most definitely is not, is boring) or that there’s no creativity on display, and the cornucopia of colorful characters are more than enough to keep us engaged.

Sure, it’s a little uneven and maybe not quite as subversive as it’d like to be, but, for my money, The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is still the most purely entertaining movie on this list.

The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad: New Posters Show Off Margot Robbie, Idris Elba & More of  Villain Cast

When James Gunn claimed that Warner Bros. had basically given him free rein to go off and make The Suicide Squad exactly as he saw fit with zero restrictions or parameters, most of us took it with a pinch of salt. After all, this was the same studio that had gained a reputation for micromanaging its filmmakers and insisting on tonal and narrative changes which completely altered the final product.

As it turns out, he was not exaggerating.

Setting aside the gore (and it is very bloody) and the trademark irreverent/sophomoric humor (most of the gags lands, some don’t quite), this “Man on a Mission” style DC Comics adventure might just be the most bizarre mainstream blockbuster of all time, and I loved every minute.

I still feel that The Suicide Squad is Gunn’s magnum opus: A near pitch-perfect blend of tones and genres, which somehow coalesces to form one of the most purely entertaining comic book movies you’re ever likely to see. It is brutally violent at times, but what emerges through the array of flying limbs is a surprisingly tender tribute to camaraderie, and an ode to all the despised and misunderstood creatures out there.

Man of Steel

Man Of Steel Review | Movie - Empire

Just as many will scoff at Aquaman placing so low, Man of Steel coming in second is bound to be a controversial choice. But, I honestly believe Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot remains one of the most underrated and underappreciated comic book movies of all time.

Highly divisive upon its release and panned by many critics, Snyder’s take on the iconic DC hero was widely criticized for being too “grimdark,” but look beyond the visual aesthetics and more somber tone (when compared to the Richard Donner movies, at least) and the brighter themes most closely associated with the character do shine through.

The movie also features some incredible action sequences, a career-best performance from Henry Cavill in the lead, and a stunning score from Hans Zimmer.

There are some problems, but for the most part, Snyder succeeded in rebooting Superman for the modern era, and laid the groundwork for Warner Bros.’ shared DC movie universe. Granted, things didn’t quite work out moving forward, but Man of Steel was a stellar start.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Watch Zack Snyder's Justice League | Prime Video

Nobody really expected it to happen, but the fabled “Snyder Cut” of Justice League was released on HBO Max in 2021, and the response was (mostly) very positive.

It’s not hard to see why, because this epic adventure is superhero storytelling on a grand scale, and everything the 2017 theatrical cut should have been. If you’re not a fan of the filmmaker’s style, this probably didn’t do much to sway you, but it’s difficult to imagine even the most ardent Snyder detractor failing to admit that this 4-hour cut improves on the original film in pretty much every way.

The story flows much more cohesively, the characters are better defined and developed, it’s far more tonally consistent, and just makes a lot more sense in general.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League didn’t please everyone, but the divisive director delivered his definitive take on the DC Comics super-team, embracing the characters’ rich mythology and treating them with the respect they deserve. It’s not perfect by any means, but should still be viewed as a monumental triumph for Snyder and his legions of fans.



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